When I was a young and not yet considered a man with manly responsibilities or recognition, I hunted alone throughout the large hog lots and forests with an air rifle and later a long bow. The long bow was a challenge since it was taller than myself and I had to be careful with the arrows. They were deadly and expensive. I had six total and couldn’t afford to loose a one of them.
On non-hunting days or lazy-as-possible days, I would often sit in the swing that hung from a huge old Oak tree next to my Grandfather’s garage and puttering around workshop. This spot also included the infamous workbench where many a Sunday Dinner chicken met their maker when encountering the business end of my Grandfather’s single-bladed axe. I was the one delegated to chase after the chicken’s headless body with a galvanized bucket. Often in my dreams I can still hear his laughter.
The day would unfold before me as I looked down from the top of the hill. Occasionally, farm trucks or cars would pass by. Each of them no matter their size produced a large cloud of greyish-white gravel dust that settled thickly on the trees and Blackberry vines that lined both sides of the roadway.
Almost no one walked the road except occasional vagabonds up to no good and the reason, I was told, why there were several shotguns in the house. In the early morning hours field hands could be seen heading for the large cotton fields half a mile away as the crows would fly. I would often see the them late in the day coming back from their labors. The small share-croppers houses were at the base of hill below my Grandfather’s place.
The red rooster would get pace-back-and-forth nervous when the dog wasn’t napping underfoot.
So, on non-hunting and or exciting exploration days, I relaxed in the shade swing by the garage with a small red rooster sitting in my lap. Now the small bird was rather docile of nature and didn’t seem to mind me being the dominate member of our small group. It wasn’t real happy with my Grandfather’s German Shepard being around, but that dog mostly slept in the shade of the green apple tree, especially if someone left the lid of the minnow bucket open. The dog loved fresh fishing minnows and would consume a dollars worth in no time at all. The red rooster would get pace-back-and-forth nervous when the dog wasn’t napping and was underfoot.
Anyway, the little red rooster wasn’t like the large white ill-tempered roosters that roamed the chicken yard behind the back porch. I had a few run-ins with the ill-tempered bunch, and feared them until I learned to treat them all like a football whenever they would make a run at me. It didn’t take too many football type encounters before they feared me. That is except one severely ill-tempered white rooster that my Grandmother snatched up one morning. I thought she was going to wring its neck, but she gave it to the share-croppers for a fourth of July celebration dinner.
The little red rooster wasn’t the best pet possible. It listened to authoritative commands much like my Grandfather’s dog who gave every impression of being deaf and rather dumb. The small bird was deathly afraid of my Grandmother and I guess for good reason. A quick way to become a Sunday fried dinner was to get too close to her. Out of harms reach was a survival practice best remembered at all times by the critters on the place. This was especially true if you tasted good salted, fried and in thick gravy.
The small bird would, on occasion, follow me around the house and yard, but it had a serious wandering off quality. “Red” did enjoy sitting in my lap during the afternoons and swinging. It was probably a heat of the day thing since it was covered with feathers during a sweltering Tennessee Summer.
Many long hours were spent sitting with my red rooster in my lap. But … I did learn one thing quickly. If the little red rooster started quivering and shaking, and making low poultry sounds, you best quickly pick it up and set it down beside you. QUICKLY, was the key word. The odd behavior of the little rooster signaled without fail that your trousers would be badly soiled if you didn’t IMMEDIATELY act. Immediately also meant not to daydream or become relaxed in your attitude towards a working knowledge of poultry inclinations.
And … badly soiled trousers was something severely embarrassing and the last thing you wanted to try to explain to your Grandmother or Grandfather.
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